Missed Shots Lead to Rough Weekend For Gamecocks MBB


Although the Gamecocks MBB team only had to make a quick two-hour trip down I-26 to play this weekend, the ride home from the Charleston Classic had to feel like it took a lot longer. A lack of shooting touch and poorly timed turnovers led to two close losses after starting off Thursday with a convincing win.

The Gamecocks begin this weekend with a resounding 69-45 win over Ivy League foe Cornell. Even while winning by a large margin, the team still struggled with its shooting touch, relying more on stingy aggressive defense and hard work on the boards to cruise to victory. Led by Sindarius Thornwell’s 14 points, and a double-double (10 pts 10 reb) off the bench by Mindaugas Kacinas, Carolina extended a 14 point halftime lead to as many as 28 mid way thru the second half.

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Next up was a matchup with Charlotte in the Semi-Finals, who survived a marathon 2 overtime contest, versus Penn State in the opening round. Tired legs could be expected for the 49ers after playing two extra periods the night before, and that showed early in the ball game. The Gamecocks imposed their aggressive defense and a quick start by Thornwell to build a 14 point lead in the first half. The sophomore guard scored 18 of his game high 20 in the first twenty minutes, leading SC to a 36-29 at the break. Charlotte started the second half quickly and erased the Gamecock advantage within five minutes of the restart. Poor shooting and a lack of aggressiveness against the zone defense, led to another stagnant offensive night, with turnovers also plaguing this team. Charlotte used a balance scoring attack, with four players in double figures, to maintain a slim lead, and hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the victory, 65-63. Thornwell had a 3 point shot to win the game in the closing seconds, but he was not able to get his shot to fall.

Following Friday’s loss, Carolina was set for the 3rd Place game on Sunday with Akron. In what can only be described as a very sloppy affair, both teams came out of the gates with shackles on.

As Coach Frank Martin said, “I was concerned about our `oomph’ after our tough loss to Charlotte, I was concerned we wouldn’t have the resolve.”

His fears we realized early as the Gamecocks struggled to make many shots, shooting poorly for the third game in four days. Akron took an early lead due to 9 SC turnovers in the first half, and built the lead up to 12 at 44-32, shortly after intermission. Then Coach Martin’s team showed some of the resolve he was concerned might be missing, with a 23-11 run to tie the game at 55 with just under 7 minutes to go. Unfortunately, shots quit falling once again and they made a few key mistakes down the stretch that let a chance to win slip away. USC had only one field goal over the last 4 minutes of play, and fell short losing another close contest 68-63.

While the effort and intensity this team has shown on defense and on the glass is impressive, wins will be hard to come by if they cannot make more shots. The Gamecocks shot under 40% for the tournament, and 26% from three point range. They have to figure out away to become much more efficient on the offensive end, or another long season maybe ahead of them.
Extras:  The Miami Hurricanes won the tournament championship with  a 77-58 victory over Charlotte,  thier point guard Angel Rodriguez was named Tournament MVP.